Meet Ilhan Omar, the ‘first refugee ever’ and one of 2 Muslim women elected to Congress

Cheryl Kahla
Nov 09, 2018
12:27 P.M.

The daughter of Palestinian immigrants made history Tuesday when she became one of two Muslim women elected to the US Congress.


Ilhan Omar won a House seat in a strongly Democratic district in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She said in a recent interview: "I'm Muslim and black," and added:

"I decided to run because I was one of many people I knew who really wanted to demonstrate what representative democracies are supposed to be."

Read more on our Twitter account, @amomama_usa. Here seven facts about Omar you might not have known.


Omar is a refugee

Omar fled Somalia's civil war with her parents back in 1991 at the age of eight and spent four years at a refugee camp in Kenya.

Her family settled in Minnesota six years later, where there is a sizable Somali population.


She is a practicing Muslim

Omar is proud to wear a hijab, and defiantly said: "that's going to be a problem, but once one person is able to do that, it then allows other people to dream too."


She learned English in only three months

She learned the language in the mid-nineties by attending political meetings with her grandfather and needed to translate the proceeding for him. She explained:

"It was a free process, and it wasn’t like the one he was exposed to. In America, you could be involved in a political party, and you didn’t have to be a member of a specific class."


Omar is an intersectional feminist

According to her bio on Twitter, Omar is an intersectional feminist, mom and "part-time justice crusader." What is intersectionality?

It's the "analytic framework that attempts to identify how interlocking systems of power impact those who are most marginalized in society."

She has experienced violence


Back in 2016, Omar was beaten up by a crowd of eight or ten people when she attended a political meeting, but this did not sway her from a career in politics.

Omar helps other women to succeed

She is the director of WOW – Women Organizing Women – an organization aimed at empowering East African women and equip them to take on civic leadership roles in their communities.


She unseated the longest-serving Minnesota Rep.

She unseated Phyllis Khan, who served in the role for more than four decades. Omar supports free college education, housing for all, and criminal justice reform.

She vehemently opposes Trump's immigration policies, campaigns for universal health care system, and wants to abolish US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

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